FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – Troy Brown had a look of confusion instead of the elation that should have followed his catch that tied the Patriots’ record for career receptions.

The official standing just behind him after his sideline grab threw a penalty flag for taunting after the ball Brown threw softly toward the ball boy brushed against Indianapolis’ Gilbert Gardner. The gentlemanly Brown was stunned when he should have been savoring the moment.

It was that kind of game for New England on Sunday night: What could have been a happy day was filled with disappointment.

The Patriots marched right down field on their first possession, but Tom Brady threw an interception in the end zone. They nearly tripled the Colts’ rushing total, but were outgained by 100 yards through the air.

Not even the homefield advantage helped them win. The Colts improved to 8-0 with a 27-20 win, while the Patriots wondered how Brady threw four interceptions.

“Obviously, we were expecting a much better performance from us offensively,” Brown said Monday in his usual soft-spoken manner with a slight smile. “You want to be 8-0. That’s where you want to be but that’s not where we are.”

His five catches gave him 538, four more than Stanley Morgan. He tied the record on his first reception late in the first quarter, then was hit with the penalty.

“I was trying to figure out what the flag was down there for,” said Brown, who couldn’t recall ever being flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, even in high school. “I didn’t even see the Colts guy there, but he called it. We overcame it.”

Coach Bill Belichick didn’t think Brown was taunting.

“The officials ruled that it was a violation so they threw the flag. We’ve talked to them about that,” Belichick said.

The Patriots did score on that possession, tying the game 7-7.

But Brady kept throwing interceptions and Peyton Manning threw two touchdown passes to Marvin Harrison.

So instead of being tied with Indianapolis for the NFL’s best record at 7-1, the Patriots are one of four AFC teams at 6-2.

The Colts threw for “more than they should have,” linebacker Junior Seau said, although the Patriots did hold them to an average of 2.1 yards per carry and 53 yards rushing.

“That’s a positive,” Seau said. “There are a lot of positives and we are in first place. They’re a good team and we’ll cross paths again.”

The Patriots knocked the Colts out of the playoffs in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. But after six straight losses, Indianapolis has now beaten New England in their last two meetings, including a 40-21 win last season that also made the Colts 8-0.

“The things they did, we’ve seen them do before,” Belichick said. “It was competitive.”

The Patriots are home again next Sunday against the New York Jets, who trail them by two games in the AFC East. But both of New England’s losses came at Gillette Stadium and it only beat the Jets by seven points on the road in the second game of the season.

“We’ve got to protect the house, so that’s a little disappointing” to lose there to Indianapolis and Denver, Brown said, “and they were AFC opponents, so that can put you behind the eight-ball.”

So can an injury to hard-hitting safety Rodney Harrison.

He missed the last 13 games last season with a knee injury. On Sunday, he didn’t return after leaving with an arm injury in the first quarter, joining the other first-string safety, Eugene Wilson, on the sidelines.

Belichick was typically vague about Harrison’s condition.

“We have a lot of guys on the team that are sore,” he said Monday. “I would put him in that category.”

That group didn’t include Brown, physically or emotionally. He took the taunting call in stride, saying officials have a difficult job.

Even if that penalty hadn’t marred his record-tying catch, he still wouldn’t have celebrated.

“It happened in a game where we lost, so there’s nothing I’m really cheering about,” Brown said. “It’s a disappointing loss for us and I’m disappointed. The results of the game overshadow everything else.”


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